Friday, August 15, 2008

What's age got to do with it?

One of the hats I continue to wear is that of a CAREGIVER. I take care of my life partner. Her name is Tess and we have been together for 28 years. Her health has been deteriorating for many years and as of last week her doctor told her she should be in a wheel chair all the time although she still does her best to get around with a walker. I am afraid she will fall again and I know that if she falls and gets hurt our lives will change even more than they already have. Physically Tess has several things that are wrong with her and the doctor’s have stated that they don’t think she would benefit from any surgery at the present . She had surgery in ’91 and although the surgery was considered successful it did not elevate her pain. We are too young to be going through this but we are. I see the expressions on other people’s faces when they ask our ages. They can hardly believe she is so young and going through so much pain and suffering. Age is a relative sort of thing; after all, our spirit is timeless and ageless. (That is another topic.) Even though I write we are too young I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I don’t think we are young.

It seems like yesterday, Tess and I were in school and planning our careers. We talked countless hours sharing our hopes and dreams. One of the best parts of our relationship has always been the communication. I do not think either of us is particularly easy to live with but somehow we have loved each other and ourselves enough to survive some tough events. We know loss only too well. Those hopes and dreams we used to talk about are quickly becoming faded memories and thankfully I think we did some good along the way. We worked hard in our prime and reached many of our goals both collectively and individually. This thing called life, this adventure ‘we’ were on together no longer feels like ‘we’ as I am doing nearly everything for her, Johnny (our old black Labrador retriever), and Oh Well (our adopted cat).

My sons live nearby but they both have busy lives and although they are available to me via phone anytime I only see my eldest son once a week. My youngest son lives in the same neighborhood as I do so I see him more frequently. I do my best not to burden them with my concerns. They tell me they love Tess as a mother. She has been a part of their lives since they were young, just six and three. I know it breaks their hearts to see her suffering so and the helplessness we all feel is often the worst of it. My two wonderful sons have told me it is becoming increasingly more difficult to watch Tess attempt to do the simplest of tasks and grunt with pain. Just attempting to shift her position in a chair causes her to groan and cry out.

Here’s the thing, Tess is not considered terminal. Although, daily her pain increases and no matter how much pain medication she takes it is always present we are moving forward. It is hard to watch her suffer. All of my friends tell me they could not do what I do, I get what they are saying but I have to live with myself and I cannot imagine myself not taking care of her. Life as we had planned it is not our current reality but, to quote John Lennon, “Life is what happens while you are making other plans" although Forrest Gump also makes a good point, "Shit Happens."


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